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Gary Pearce: The GOP plan to privatize the schools

"The Republicans’ education agenda finally comes into focus: It’s about creating a market for private enterprise. They want to privatize Medicaid and privatize the Department of Commerce, so why not privatize schools?" So writes Democratic political consultant in his blog Talking About Politics.

It’s the only thing that makes sense. You might be wondering: How do they propose to make public schools better when they demonize and demoralize teachers, take teacher assistants out of the classroom and increase class sizes? (And, at the same time, demand that schools teach the Bible, cursive writing and, for all we know, creationism.)

Overwhelming House support for teacher tenure bill

The state House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill that would change the teacher tenure law. The bill would allow veteran teachers to earn tenure, though they could lose it with poor evaluations in two consecutive years.

The House passed the bill 113-1 and sent it to the Senate.

The Senate is working on is own bill, supported by Republican leaders, which conflicts with the House bill. The Senate bill would get phase out teacher tenure by mid-2018.

Pat McCrory's "Aha!" moment

Gov. Pat McCrory raised the possibility Wednesday that public education leaders- from pre-K to the university system - would get together on a budget to send legislators rather than have each sector work separately with the governor's office on the proposal.

McCrory described it as his "Aha!" moment as he assembled his first budget.

Closer collaboration on budgeting was one of the goals discussed at the first Education Cabinet meeting in the McCrory administration.The cabinet has the branches of state education and a representative of independent universities consider joint projects and ways to cooperate.

A collaborative budget would be a switch from current practice, where budget requests are developed separately and the K-12 public education and the UNC system often seen to be competing for money at the legislature.

McCrory said he and his budget staff thought it would be better to have pre-K through universities work on a budget together - "have an education budget as opposed to a university budget, or a K-12 budget, or a community college budget, or a pre-K budget."

McCrory acknowledged that there is already information shared. For example, leaders of the community college system meet regularly with UNC system leaders and with the state Department of Public Instruction. But McCrory wants a formal process with his office in on it.

Teacher tenure bill moves swiftly through House committee

A bipartisan House bill that would change the state's teacher tenure law moved swiftly through the House Education committee Tuesday.

The bill would allow veteran teachers to keep tenure, though they would lose it with two consecutive years of poor performance. Teachers with four years experience who are rated "highly effective" would be granted tenure.

The House bill is on a collision course with a Senate bill that abolishes teacher tenure.

Morning Memo: Senate moves with speed, Muslim remarks put GOP on the spot

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: In a metaphor for this legislative session, the Senate is moving fast to raise the speed limit to 75 mph on some highways. The full Senate is scheduled to hear the bill Thursday, a day after it passed a committee and a week after it was filed, AP reports. The Carolina Panthers incentives bill also won approval in committee Wednesday and heads to the floor. Senate convenes at 10 a.m. The House is expecting a longer-than-normal day with a busy calendar, including a measure to limit the N.C. Lottery's ability to advertise and sell games. It starts at 1 p.m. Earlier in the day, House committees will consider a wind energy bill and IT changes requested by the McCrory adminsitration.

Gov. Pat McCrory will attend the UNC system Board of Governors meeting in Pembroke -- where he will surely face questions about the budget cuts he proposed -- before making an economic development announcement in the area.

HOW WILL GOP REACT? As AP reports, an American-Islamic group wants national Republican leaders to repudiate comments by a North Carolina legislator who compared Muslim prayer to terrorism. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Wednesday that bigoted comments must be rejected if the GOP wants to reach minorities. State Rep. Michele Presnell of Yancey County did not respond to messages seeking comment.

***The Dome Morning Memo sets the stage for the day in North Carolina politics. Get more news and analysis below.***

House education bill clashes with Senate on tenure, grading schools

N.C. House members are set to discuss an education bill that clashes with a Senate bill on the key issues of tenure and grading schools.

The House members' news conference on their bill comes hours after a Senate committee approved a measure championed by Senate leader Phil Berger that would eliminate teacher tenure and assign schools A-F grades based on student test scores.

The House bill, sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats, would keep the tenure system, but teachers with poor evaluations would lose it. The House bill also incorporates student growth into the calculation of schools' grades. Berger's bill would have growth represented by a separate grade.

Morning Memo: Education, voter ID dominate agenda; McCrory nears 100 days

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: A controversial voter ID measure gets a double billing Wednesday, appearing in a 1 p.m. House Election Committe meeting for discussion only and a 4 p.m. public hearing. A lawyer from the Indiana Secretary of State's Office and the N.C. NAACP's William Barber will present at the earlier meeting. The House will also unveil a major education bill at a 2 p.m. press conference, just hours after a Senate panel considers President Pro Tem Phil Berger's own overhaul plan at a 10 a.m.

Senate committees will also consider bills to increase the speed limit on some highways to 75 mph and provide tax money to the Carolina Panthers for stadium renovations. Gov. Pat McCrory will attend a private reception for the N.C. Homebuilders Association at 5 p.m. The group is advancing two controversial measures this session to limit local control of inspections and design standards for homes that are angering counties and cities. Wonder how Mayor Pat would have reacted to the legislation?

McCRORY'S FIRST 100 DAYS: The governor is nearing the 100-day mark of his term -- a benchmark that means little but will generate a media extravaganza. McCrory is sitting down with various media outlets this week, about 10 minutes at a time, to discuss his accomplishments. WRAL-TV is the first with an interview. Check it out here. 

***Good morning and thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. More North Carolina political news and analysis below.***

House OKs bill delaying school grading system that Senate GOP leaders want

Legislation delaying a new grading system for North Carolina's public schools passed the state House with near-unanimous support Thursday, leading to a showdown with Senate Republican leaders, The N&O's Keung Hui reports.

The bill, H435, would delay until Aug. 1, 2014 the release of A through F letter grades for individual schools based on factors such as passing rates on exams and graduation rates. The grading system, which was introduced by Senate President Pro Temp Phil Berger as past of last year's budget, is set to start this year.

The House bill would also make it easier for schools to get higher grades than Berger's model. The House would let schools raise their letter grade if they're showing growth on exams even if their passing rates is low.

The House bill, which passed by a 105-4 vote, now goes to the Senate.

The Senate Education Committee will consider Wednesday Berger's bill, S361. It would, among other things, set out how the grading system would work and end tenure for teachers.

Morning Memo: McCrory to announce Medicaid overhaul; big day at statehouse

McCRORY TO ANNOUNCE MEDICAID SYSTEM OVERHAUL: Gov. Pat McCrory rejected a Medicaid expansion earlier this year saying the system was broken and Wednesday morning he is expected to describe how he plans to fix it. The Republican has talked frequently about the rising costs of the healthcare system for select low-income and disabled residents and issued a video preview Tuesday saying he would create a "partnership" that will help keep costs low. Check Dome later today for more details from the 10 a.m. press conference.

***It's a jam-packed day in North Carolina politics. Get the full scoop on all the big stories from the Dome Morning Memo below. Send tips and news to***

Morning Memo: McCrory adminstration reverses Confederate flag stance

FLAG FLAP PROMPTS McCRORY ABOUT-FACE: A Confederate battle flag hung inside the old North Carolina State Capitol last week to mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War is being taken down after civil rights leaders raised concerns. The decision was announced Friday evening, hours after the Associated Press published a story about the flag, which officials said was part of an historical display intended to replicate how the antebellum building appeared in 1863. The flag had been planned to hang in the House chamber until April 2015, the 150th anniversary of the arrival of federal troops in Raleigh.

"This is a temporary exhibit in an historic site, but I've learned the governor's administration is going to use the old House chamber as working space," Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz said Friday night. "Given that information, this display will end this weekend rather than April of 2015." The decision was a quick about-face for the McCrory administration, which initially defended the display. More from AP here.

***Good morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Much more N.C. political news and analysis below. ***

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